Thursday, May 29, 2014

Amazing Grace (Ephesians 2:1-10)

"We are safe because of His grace"
Corel Painter X3

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

This section of Ephesians has one of our most favorite verses in the Bible:
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
We don't understand the word, "grace" so much today.  It's funny my name, "Karen," means "grace." I am the most ungraceful lady you'll ever meet : )  In Webster's dictionary, "grace" also means unmerited divine assistance given humans, kindness, courtesy, temporary exemption.  I have definitely received some of God's grace, and lots of bruises on my legs and toes hahaha.  The opposite of grace is destruction. We should choose God's grace, definitely!

God didn't have to save us.  He could've just given up.  But He didn't.  That tells me that in spite of our sin, He's still leaving the light on for us to come home.  The only requirement is that we have faith in Him, accept His Son, "Jesus," speak to Him through prayer, and allow Him to help us change our ways.  

1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
The prince of the power of the air is the devil. There's a million ways we can go the wrong way.  There's pride that makes us think we're better than other people.  There's drugs and alcohol.  Basically breaking the 10 commandments.  We've all sinned, no one is perfect.

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:1-10 NKJV)

Here's a great song from, Citizen Way "How Sweet the Sound" (link)

This is the traditional song by Celtic Woman "Amazing Grace" (link)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Prayer of George Washington, 1752 (Memorial Day 2014)

"George Washington prayed before each battle"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

A book called, George Washington's Prayer Journal, 1752, was in my Olive Tree Bible software.  I feel led to share one of his prayers this year.  It seems like we've lost our identity and our nation is divided right now.  It's good to take a look back and see where we began.  It's striking how humble George was.  He really cared about our people. To anyone outside the USA, he was one of our founding fathers and our first President. 

Here's one of his prayers:

O Lord our God, most mighty and merciful father, I thine unworthy creature and servant, do once more approach thy presence. Though not worthy to appear before thee, because of my natural corruptions, and the many sins and transgressions which I have committed against thy divine majesty; yet I beseech thee, for the sake of him in whom thou art well pleased, the Lord Jesus Christ, to admit me to render thee deserved thanks and praises for thy manifold mercies extended toward me, for the quiet rest & repose of the past night, for food, raiment, health, peace, liberty, and the hopes of a better life through the merits of thy dear son’s bitter passion. And O kind father continue thy mercy and favor to me this day, and ever hereafter; prosper all my lawful undertakings; let me have all my directions from thy holy spirit, and success from thy bountiful hand. Let the bright beams of thy light so shine into my heart, and enlighten my mind in understanding thy blessed word, that I may be enabled to perform thy will in all things, and effectually resist all temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil. Preserve and defend our rulers in church and state. Bless the people of this land, be a father to the fatherless, a comforter to the comfortless, a deliverer to the captives, and a physician to the sick. Let thy blessings be upon our friends, kindred and families. Be our guide this day and forever through J. C. in whose blessed form of prayer I conclude my weak petitions--- Our Father... [the Lord's Prayer is added here.]

Written by,
( George Washington, 1752 Age 20)

"All ages were in the Revolutionary War"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
I took these photos at a re-enactment of the Revolutionary War, Battle of Monmouth, in Monmouth County, New Jersey.  It's interesting to note, at the end of the battle it was considered a tie.  Both the British and the Colonials claimed victory.  But, it was also the first battle where our soldiers were able to hold their own after training in Valley Forge.

Here's the Battle Hymn of the Republic (link)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Paul's Prayer (Ephesians 1:15-23)

This is an amazing prayer.  Paul writes things in this prayer, I don't even think about : ) err usually (blush).

Here's Paul's prayer list:
The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory may give to you
  • the spirit of wisdom 
  • revelation in the knowledge of Him
  • the eyes of your understanding enlightened
To know
  • the hope of His calling
  • the riches of the glory of His inheritance
  • the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe
  • the working of His mighty power 
  • what He worked in Christ when He was raised from the dead
  • what happened when He was seated at His right hand in the heavenly places

That's an amazing prayer list!  We usually pray for rain or no rain.  Healing for others.  Such a great challenge for us to look up!  Instead of down.

15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
(Ephesians 1:15-23 NKJV)

Pastor Saeed, a U.S. citizen, has been in a radical Islamic prison for a long time.  Just wanted to say a prayer for him.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift up Pastor Saeed in prison to You.  I pray You will keep his tormentors from coming near him.  Build a holy wall to protect him.  Father, I pray for Your hand to send angels to guide him out of the prison to safety.  Your angels are bigger than any man.  Let them smash his chains.  I pray that he will be returned to his family.   Please bring confusion to his captors.  I pray for strength of character and hope for Saeed.  Grant him the peace that passes understanding and renew his spirit.  Nothing is impossible for You!  You rescued the Apostle Paul more than once : )

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
10 Set the world right;
Do what's best––
  as above, so below.
11 Keep us alive with three square meals.
12 Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
13 Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
  Yes. Yes. Yes .
(Matthew 6:9-13 Message)

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Paul's letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:1-14)

"NJ White Heron"
Found him in a local pond : )
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
So after reading Acts, I read what Paul wrote, "an apostle of Jesus Christ  by the will of God" I know what he meant.  I just read about Paul's blindness and conversion  : )  It's nice how God laid out the Bible isn't it?  It is the inspired Word of God.  The best explanation for how Paul became an Apostle is God's will.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
The word "predestined" is a hard one for us to grasp.  The best explanation I've heard  is that God puts trials, hardships, blessings, people in need, helpful people, extra money, no money, in our path as a part of His plan for us to grow and believe in Him.  We have the choice to believe or not.  He doesn't force us like robots.  Just like the rain brings flowers, troubles bring hope and a renewed purpose in Him.  

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
As I read this I remember my Greek Professor saying we can always know when Paul is writing, lots of run-on sentences. Verses 7-10 are one sentence : )  Just a fun fact about the Bible.  The writers have their own styles which makes it even more credible. After Paul's conversion, I always smile at the beauty of his words.  He was an angry, controlling, fighter.  Through Christ he is an eloquent, beautiful, Evangelist.

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
(Ephesians 1:1-14 NKJV)
 Can you see the difference between a man driven by each letter of the Jewish law to a loving compassionate man?  Actually, I can relate.  I was angry and empty before I accepted Jesus as my Savior.  But Paul's writing is so inspired and beautiful.  You can see why he's a favorite Apostle of many Christians (plus the fact that he messed up big time like we have). It's encouraging to see how God can change a life.  

"you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,"  There's not a lot of mystery here.  We receive the Holy Spirit  when we chose to trust Jesus and believe, and listen to the Word of truth. 

Here's a song by Michael W. Smith Glorious Grace.  

Ephesians must have been Michael's inspiration for writing this song.  It's beautiful!  Michael W. Smith is still singing to the Lord, he's been singing since I became a Christian 38 years ago.  We saw him on the Mike Huckabee show last night.

My prayer-
Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift those in the Southern California wild fires to You.  I pray You will bring rain and strength to the firefighters who are working so hard to get things under control.  Please bring peace to this situation and protect those in harms way.  Thank You for Your most awesome compassion : )

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Paul & Ananias story 2 (Psalms 146:7-8, Acts 9:7-31)

"Paul waiting in blindness"
thought he should have a Roman nose : )

Adobe Photoshop
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

We've been having lots of storms in the USA lately.  In New Jersey, we're getting sun one day and then more rain.  Then some humidity.  We are tired and worn out from these storms.  I turn on all my lights in my studio to cheer myself up.  But, something extraordinary is also taking place.  After Hurricane Sandy the plants looked bad.  Azaleas quit blooming, trees looked dead.  

I went for a walk the other day.  Our plants are more beautiful than ever before!  It's like that with our life storms.  The bad stuff makes us stronger and more beautiful.  One of the trees that hasn't bloomed in 3 years is now full of buds and leaves!  There's always hope, for us too.

Back to the story of Paul and Ananias...
The Lord sets prisoners free,
8 the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
(Psalms 146:7-8 NIV)
7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
This would be so humbling for the mighty Pharisee, "Saul."  He couldn't do anything but pray.  Not only did Jesus talk to him, the others heard it too.  There were witnesses.  It must've been such a humbling time.  He was wrong; he'd spilled innocent blood.  That would be horrifying in itself.  But to hear the voice of God.  Yikes!  He was a good man following what he thought was the law.  

10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.”
And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.
I admire Ananias : )  The Lord speaks and He is listening.  It would take great faith to do what God asked of him.  I hope I would be so willing if something came up with someone like Paul.  Sometimes God asks us to do things that aren't easy or comfortable.

13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”
15 But the Lord said to him, “ Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake.”
17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.
19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.
Ananias is a great servant.  He took a huge leap of faith to help Saul.  I hope I would be so faithful if I faced a similar situation.  When I am scared, like when I'm ministering in a dangerous place.  I pray for the Holy Spirit to help me and then the peace and joy comes. So we should never feel we are on our own in our faith or ministry.

20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”
22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.
Like I said before, Paul is an all or nothing guy.  "Immediately"  he goes out to set things straight.  Jesus IS the Son of God.  He confused the Jews and moved forward to build up the body of Christ.  They no longer had a fighter on their side.  We don't know everything about Paul, but I suspect he was a driver.  He saw the goal and went for it.  Anyone who wasn't going with him could stay behind.  That's that.

23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.
The Jewish leaders weren't happy.  All their plans had been destroyed.  But the disciples in Damascus must've come to love him because they helped him escape.  Now that's forgiveness isn't it?

26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.
Hellenists were Jews who adopted Greek ways.  Barnabas was a good man according to Luke (whom it is believed wrote the book of Acts).  It's also believed that Saul and Barnabas may have learned under Gamaliel at the same time.  If that is so, then they would've been good friends already.  I'm sure that would've helped Paul out quite a bit.

31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
Did God choose the right man or what?  God sees inside our hearts, He forms us in our Mother's womb.  He has plans for all of us.  We just need to pray and listen.
(Acts 9:7-31 NKJV)

Great song from Tanner Clark, "Do not be afraid" (link)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Paul & Stephen story 1 (Acts 6:8-15, Acts 7:54-8:3, Acts 9:1-9)

"Stephen saw Jesus before he died"
Faber Castell, Pitt Markers
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I seem to have been lead to read Ephesians : )  Before I jump in, I thought it would be good to read up on the Apostle Paul.  It's been awhile.  Once I remember Paul, the letters he wrote to the Churches make more sense.  His story is amazing.  We can't forget about Stephen too.

Paul is one of God's miracles (and a favorite Apostle).  His Jewish name was Saul; Roman name was Paul.  He had dual citizenship.   He was a Pharisee of the tribe of Benjamin.  Evidently, his family had purchased land in Rome, where he was born, which made him a Roman citizen as well.  In order to earn money, he became a tent maker literally.  Lots of Christians in ministry today talk about their "tent making" jobs to help pay the bills allowing them to be ministers. 

Saul left for Jerusalem earlier in his life to study under Gamaliel a premier teacher of the Law in the first century.  It makes me wonder if Paul was born into a fairly wealthy family.  Pretty cool how God chooses people from all walks of life.  Peter was a fisherman, I'm sure he'd fall fast asleep in no time listening to Gamaliel hahaha.  I would too or start doodling : )

After his teaching with Gamaliel was complete, Paul came back to Jerusalem to an uprising about the crucifixion of Jesus.  He joined into the mix to physically destroy Christians, even traveling to different regions to persecute them.

Stephen was one of the first leaders of the early Church.
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. 
It sounds to me like they knew Stephen was right but didn't want to admit it.  Pretty sad human nature.  It's like a mob mentality where everyone wants to get the approval of everyone else.

11 Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. 13 They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” 15 And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.
(Acts 6:8-15 NKJV)
It's the Holy Spirit glow.  He makes us beautiful at certain times.  Way better than make-up.  It comes from the inside, where His Holy Spirit dwells.  I'd be a little cautious attacking a man who's glowing like an angel.  Hmmm.  

54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
I had to look up what "gnashed" meant.  It's some type of grinding and growling  these guys mastered to intimidate their victims.  Real mature right?  

57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Stephen must've been an amazing man to be so sensitive to God's Spirit.  We'll meet him in Heaven one day.  I'm sure he'll be delighted to see how many Christians there are now : )  It's interesting that Stephen asked for his attacker's forgiveness as they were ready to kill him.  

1 Now Saul was consenting to his death.
At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
(Acts 7:54-8:3 NKJV)
As I read this I am reminded how Saul/Paul never did things half-hearted.  As a persecutor or Church leader, he always gave his all.

1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
Paul was out looking for people to persecute.  He travelled to gather these people.  It must've been horrible for him to remember later on.  Forgiving myself is one of my biggest weaknesses.

3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”
Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
(Acts 9:1-9 NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift up the little girls from Nigeria.  I pray You will protect them and guide them to safety.  Reveal the truth to the captors of what they have become.  I also continue to lift up the Ukraine.  Please bless and keep them from harm.  Thank You so much for Lisa's last chemo.  I pray You will pour out lots of blessings and confidence for the next few years.  Bring peace and humbleness where it is needed in our White House.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

God's love, cancer (Ephes. 3:14-21)

Cancer is such a frightening word.  We are still waiting for a cure.  Many people are struggling with this disease around the world.  As bloggers we lost a dear friend and blogger to cancer.  We've also been praying for Lisa, who has her last chemo treatment coming up.  This post is dedicated to Cancer patients, all those struggling with illness.  Lisa has taught us much about the disease.  Many things are hard to understand in this world.  Yet God has promised His love never fails.  I trust His Word.

We long to know about God's love.

"His love is higher than any mountain, higher than the moon and stars!"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

"His love is wider than the circumference of the earth!"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

"His love is deeper than all the oceans!"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

"These flowers are for you Lisa!"
"New Jersey is still the Garden State!"
...ok a little soggy.

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
According to Him, we are to die for:
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
(John 3:16-17 NKJV)

There's a lot we don't understand right now.  But we do know God loves us and all of this will make sense one day.  Until then, we will have faith.  Cancer is not a punishment, it's a disease.

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.
(Ephesians 3:14-21 NKJV)

Ok so it's not just my eyes that makes this hard to read.  There's a default in the Blogger tool that makes text go small when we save.  Dunno why...

Dear Heavenly Father, 
I pray You will guide the doctors and scientists with wisdom.  You know everything because You are our Creator.  I pray You will help them know the cure for cancer.  Please give Lisa a big hug and bless JT's wife who lost her husband.  
In Jesus Name, Amen.

Here are some really great songs:

In My Arms by Plumb (link)

Your Love Oh Lord by Third Day (link)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Putting on His Armor (Ephesians 6:10-20, John 3:16-18, James 5:16, Romans 4:5-8, Matt 5:9, John 14:27, Hebrews 11:1-3, Hebrews 4:12)

"My first knight : ) (hope it's ok...)"
Tombow Pens and Photoshop

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I was talking to a neighbor the other day.  I told her our plans for vacation later in the year.  Her response was sad.  She said proudly, "Oh you still like your husband."  

I asked if things were ok.  She said,  "We don't see each other much.  We are like 2 ships that pass in the night."  

As I walked inside, I realized love is a choice.  It's not a feeling or a demand.  When Jesus became the sacrifice for us, it was God's choice.  It wasn't done in anger, it was done in love.   It's not so easy to love sometimes is it?  And marriage is never perfect, we just aren't.

I really like the description of the Armor of God.  It helps me understand the battle between good and evil. 

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil
I honestly don't think about the devil much.  It is the serpent who slithered in the garden of Eden tempting Adam and Eve.  It is the thing that tried to tempt Jesus into mocking God and becoming an earthly king. The tormentor that caused Jesus to sweat tears of blood.  We don't know what it said, but we do know the devil is a fallen angel so far deteriorated, it's only purpose is to destroy.  

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
The armor of God is such a great description.  Don't know about you but I visualize it in my mind.  The Bible was written for all us, those who are creative and see cartoon people, and those who are rule keepers who quickly distinguish right and wrong.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 
(Ephesians 6:10-18 NKJV)
Truth is so important.  I need to remember to be honest about my walk with Christ.  It's not easy, or a sales pitch.  It's a new way of life, where we embrace our Creator instead of lofty ideas.  Humans are competitive by nature, rather than promoters of peace.  It's good to be honest at times (not all the time hahaha).  My husband is a lot more tactful when he talks to me now, after 21 years.  Hopefully I am too.  

It's important to remember our salvation too.  It's our helmet : )  I know my mind goes places and I have to stop and remind myself I'm forgiven.  People and circumstances make us feel unworthy, lost.  The Word of God is our sword.  When people are mean, God is always love.  I have a T-shirt that says, "Pray hard."  The picture is a guy with holes in his blue jeans.  Prayer is an awesome gift from God.  He actually hears us! And helps when it's within His will and character.
Helmet of Salvation (remembering I am God's helps me with my thoughts)
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
(John 3:16-18 NKJV)
Belt of Truth (keeps me from thinking more of myself or less)
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. 
(James 5:16 NIV)
Breastplate of Righteousness (guards my heart so I can keep going and not give up)
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”
(Romans 4:5-8 NKJV)
Feet prepared for the gospel of Peace (never know when we can be a blessing)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
(Matthew 5:9)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
(John 14:27)
Shield of Faith (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
(Hebrews 11:1-3 NKJV)
Word of God-Sword of the Spirit (His Word always keeps me on track and I've seen it really touch others either in blessing or conviction)
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 NKJV)
Here's my prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father I lift up Europe to You.  I pray that the right will win and wrong will fail.  Please bring repentance to all our leaders.  Grant our President wisdom and the ability to listen and understand others, especially our people.  Bless us all Father as we look forward to Your return and peace at last. Please bring peace and safety to Ukraine and Russia.  Bless them with Your presence Father, shield them with Your holiness.  I pray You'll do some extra blessings for Lisa today as she is almost through her chemo.  

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
10 Set the world right;
Do what's best––
  as above, so below.
11 Keep us alive with three square meals.
12 Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
13 Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
  Yes. Yes. Yes .
(Matthew 6:9-13 Message)

In Jesus Name, Amen.

May God bless us all in putting on His armor!   
Here's a great song by Mercy Me, "Shake" (link)